"I'm actually not a vegan... sometimes people get upset about that," Metropolis Soap Company owner Megan Brame-Finkelstein laughs, explaining why, when she decided to get into the beauty business, she decided that her products would be entirely free from animal products (so much so that they even steer clear of beeswax and honey). "I just didn't want to work with a lot of animal products, and a lot of soaps are made with lard or tallow. So we decided that if we weren't going to do it there, then the whole line would be vegan."
The end result—a line of delicate, user-friendly products free of parabens, sulfates, and synthetics—has been quietly garnering glowing reviews and a cult following since launching in 2009, so much so that Brame-Finkelstein had to move the operation out of her Bay Ridge kitchen ("I'm a bad cook, so at first I had the space," she says) and into her current Greenpoint studio this past spring.
"It started out with me looking on a craft forum, and seeing that body scrubs were just oil and sugar," she explained in her studio last week, walking us through the simple, incredibly-soothing-to-watch soap-making process she's been honing for the better part of a decade, using a mercifully short ingredients list comprised mostly of herbs and essential oils. "I thought, 'Well, I can do that,' and from there, I saw a lip balm kit at Michaels and thought 'Really? Well I can make that, too!' And it sort of escalated from there. So then I thought, 'How do you make soap? Well, let's do that,' and it sort of became a monster."
And with a forthcoming "Black Label" collection of customer-requested skincare products like toners, serum, and face and body wraps (as well as excellent, moisturizing body scrubs I haven't been able to keep myself from using every single day for the past week), things are only poised to expand further for the company. The next time we visit them, it may just be in a bigger studio.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.